Clamour at funeral for sainthood for John Paul II

A popular clamour for Pope John Paul II to be quickly canonized as a Catholic saint erupted in St. Peter’s Square on Friday toward the end of the funeral mass for the pontiff.

The crowd chanted “santo, santo” over and again, briefly holding up the ceremony, and some people held up large banners demanding the quick canonisation of a man who had created more saints during his 26-year papacy than all his predecessors together.

Saints are those whom the Catholic church proclaims to have risen with Christ and are capable of interceding with God for those who call on their aid.

Many believe that the pope has already deserved the highest accolade the church can bestow.

“He deserves it with everything he’s done,” said Eligia Manigrasso, a 19-year-old ceramics worker from southern Italy.
“Just his way of being with children would be enough.”

But before the pope can be proclaimed, the Vatican would have to go through three major steps. The first would be a declaration of his “heroic virtues,” a finding that he had led an exemplary life—after which the Church would give him the title Venerable.

Second is beatification, which would require a finding that at least one miracle—usually an unexplained medical cure—had taken place as a result of his intercession. He would then be known by the title Blessed.

The final stage, canonisation, would require a further miracle at least.

An icon of the sick because of his own illnesses, John Paul II was sure to be invoked often in the prayers of the ill.

A Mexican teen, Heron Badillo, said this week that the late pope cured his leukaemia after dozens of doctors had abandoned hope that he could be healed.

“Since that day in 1990, I’ve been convinced that it was a miracle. His holiness touched my face and kissed my forehead and head. I was four years old, and I was very sick, but after that, I was healed,” said Badillo, now 19.

A nun in Colombia, meanwhile, has said the pontiff cured her of an illness that affected her balance.

Usually it takes at least dozens of years for the Vatican to declare that someone was a saint. But many of the pilgrims who have streamed into Rome to pay their last respects to the pontiff believe he already is.

“I think this is John Paul II’s first miracle,” said Jean-Herve Foulon, a 40-year-old French medieval history professor, pointing to the vast crowd waiting to view the pope’s body on Thursday: “We wanted to pay homage to a man who was a saint.

“He is the Jesus of our time,” said Bridechristaline Ogiri, a Nigerian nun living in Rome.

Pilgrims have left scores of notes on lampposts around St. Peter’s square referring to John Paul II in Christ-like terms after the very public suffering he endured in recent years.

“Now that you are resurrected, you remain in our hearts,” said one message.

An icon of the sick because of his own illnesses, John Paul II is sure to be invoked often in the prayers of the very ill, and it is likely the Vatican eventually will begin the long process of investigating the claims of miracles.

If some Vatican insiders get their way, the need for proven miracles may be scrapped.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa and former secretary of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said two years ago that what mattered was not whether candidates for sainthood had performed miracles, but whether they had displayed “heroic virtue”—led an exemplary life.—Sapa-AFP

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